Just done – the piecing for Blushing Peonies is completed. Fiddly! More than once I opened seams and rotated/repositioned small 4-patch blocks because a colour was next to the same colour in a larger block. I took apart large sections of the middle portion of the top in order to center the large bordered block. At this point, I have to say I’m please with the colour flow and can live with the symmetrical layout.
I now understand why I ended up stuck with the symmetry after looking again at the first 2, 4, 8, 16 quilt and comparing it with this one:
Same block size – same number of blocks (more or less) – but in this first version, my 16″ blocks were background, neutral, used to showcase the bright 8″ blocks. The strong turquoise block draws the eye to the central portion of the quilt and the large blocks in three of the corners fade away. Your eye moves to the other 8″ blocks in turn and then picks up the colour flow of the small blocks, but not really ever landing on the three large corner elements. So in this quilt asymmetry allowed me to make the 8″ blocks the focus of the quilt.
In Blushing Peonies, having decided to border the three 16″ blocks and make them the focus of the quilt I was forced to arrange them in a diagonal with symmetrical placement. The 8″ blocks don’t capture your attention, and the smaller 4″ and 2″ blocks just fill in colour around the three large blocks.
I could have gone with my original idea:
In this case I managed a viable asymmetry – but the final quilt dimensions were wrong – it wanted another 4″ in the length and if I had put a 4″ row on one end, I would have wanted a complementary 4″ column on the right side – which would have distorted the width/length ratio. So I opted for inserting the 4″ between the middle and the bottom and centering the large block.
Now the question is – do I frame the piecing with a narrow border (in which fabric)? Do I bind it conventionally, or use a hidden binding and allow the pieced edges to border the quilt?
I have enough each of the red mottled and grey mottled fabric to construct a backing with some kind of insertion – not sure yet which to use – it will likely turn out to be the grey to tone down the back in relation to the top. I need to sleep on all of this before doing anything more.
It’s been an interesting exercise – I’ve learned a lot more about colour and design by doing this quilt. I did not anticipate the decisions I’d run into before I started out.
One other thing –
Yesterday Melanie McNeil raised the matter of quilting seam allowances:
(someone) asked today about a “scant” quarter-inch seam allowance. A variety of responses were given, from “it doesn’t matter as long as your seam allowance is consistent” to “it DOES matter if you want things to fit.” The best answer included a link to this video, which explains exactly why a good seam allowance matters.
This Blushing Peonies quilt top is an example of when it does matter – in order to get all the small 4-patch blocks to fit the 4 1/2″ squares, etc. I needed careful scant 1/4″ seam allowances. There have been instances where I haven’t needed to be so vigorous about the seam allowances but here (and with the Wandering Geese quilt) I had to be meticulous.
Watch the video if you’re interested in what this discussion is all about.